Today I’m kicking off a new short story collection. This is a collection of ten stories that has been around for a few years but I’m just getting around to reading it. I became a fan of Tom Franklin after reading Hell at the Breech which I call a brutal story that’s beautifully told. His most recent book Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is also excellent but in many ways is a very different book, although also beautifully told. Poachers is a collection of ten stories that I’ll be reading and talking about over the next several weeks.
I was already a fan of Tom Franklin before I even picked up this book but even without that pre-existing fan status I believe this book is worth a look.
In the introduction, Franklin gives the reader a bit of his own history and the area where he grew up that he considers ‘his South”. If you haven’t read his work before it provides a context for his stories by understanding the people and places he grew up with.
In the first story Grit, Franklins taps into his own history for the setting. He spent some time working at a sandblasting grit factory and just such a factory in Alabama is the setting for this story.
Glen is the factory manager and with 4 ex-wives worth of alimony and a gambling problem eating up his income he really doesn’t need any complications in his life. He’s told by the company owners in Detroit that in a cost-cutting measure he needs to eliminate the two employees who work the night shift and cut the factory back to day shift only. Glen doesn’t really have any qualms about one of the men he has to let go, but the second one is a bit more complicated. That’s because Roy is also the man Glen owes money to for his gambling debts. Rather than accept the layoff, Roy proposes a counteroffer to Glen. It doesn’t take long before Glen’s life is far more complicated and dangerous than he’d ever anticipated.
The moodiness of the setting in the factory at night casts such an atmosphere over this whole story. That’s what I love about Tom Franklin’s writing, you not only get the story but you also get the full background image and feeling that goes with it.
This one is dark, dangerous, disturbing and has a nice light touch of twisted humor that shows up in a few places.
I’m glad I finally started this collection of stories.
Short Story Mondays is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.